[FH]: What inspired the creation of lluni, and what problems does it seek to address?
[LF]: The creation of lluni arose from the desire to accelerate the digitization of Insurance Brokers, which had a conservative business profile with low levels of technology and integrations.
One of the perceived difficulties was related to the significant volume of data generated in the insurance sector by all the involved stakeholders: Insurers, Mediators, Clients, Subagents, Providers, and Regulators. In this context, we identified an opportunity to add value to the sector through innovative technology to enhance this flow of information, and that’s where lluni came into being.
We developed a tailor-made solution for Insurance Brokers composed of an ERP (lluni seg) and an Insurance Integration Platform (WIP) which, in conjunction with some insurers, enabled the first standardized solution in Portugal that integrated the flow of insurance portfolio data between Brokers and Insurers through Webservices, providing both with significant gains in quality and efficiency.
This evolution allowed the development of several innovative solutions in Insurance Brokers, such as automation of notifications, business flows, financial controls, Customer and Subagent Portals, targeted commercial actions, Business Intelligence, among others.
[FH]: How have your experiences prior to lluni shaped the path and vision for your startup?
[LF]: Participation in the implementation of various ERPs in the past, combined with management experience in several companies, has allowed me to design a solution that is simple and agile, with rapid implementation and user-friendly interface, while still addressing the complexity of the business through a modular and configurable structure that enables versatile deployments, always with a focus on data automation and integration.
All of this is achieved within a democratic vision of technology, built upon a standard base, service-oriented, and hosted in the cloud, which enables the cost of the solution to be spread across the entire lluni user network. In doing so, we make it possible for Insurance Brokers to access cutting-edge technology that otherwise would not be feasible due to its cost and development complexity.
Therefore, we position lluni as a central figure for the sustainability of insurance brokerage in an increasingly technological and competitive world, and this is a true differentiating factor.
[FH]: What major hurdles have you faced while setting up lluni and how were they addressed?
[LF]: One of the biggest challenges we faced was the resistance from incumbent insurers to adopt the technology that we saw as useful for Insurance Brokers, particularly in processes involving automatic data integration. As with all innovations, there is resistance to change, and in a mature market like the Insurance sector, this resistance was even more pronounced. Fortunately, we were able to initiate the process with one insurer (Allianz) that demonstrated the efficiency of our technology for Brokers, which then motivated other insurers. Today, the top 10 largest Portuguese insurers are integrated with our technology.
Equally significant were the challenges in establishing the visibility and credibility of a new brand like lluni, starting from scratch. Additionally, there were difficulties in attracting and retaining talent in a highly competitive IT market where resources are in high demand.
[FH]: What are the most significant benefits and challenges of operating a fintech startup in Portugal?
[LF]: Portugal boasts excellent talent in the technology sector, with a strong educational background and a hunger for innovation. This enables the formation of strong development teams and the creation of innovative products. Additionally, being a relatively small market allows for the easy experimentation of new approaches, facilitating rapid proof of concept.
Moreover, Portugal benefits from its current moment, as fintech and insurtech sectors have only begun to take their first steps in recent years. This has granted us a certain centrality within the insurance market, particularly in Insurance Brokerage.
However, some of these advantages also present challenges. Notably, the size of the market tends to exhaust quickly, leading to a need for accelerated investment in internationalization and the assumption of new risks at an early stage. The fragility of our economy introduces a discrepancy between costs and profits, where the market might offer lower compensation while demanding a lot to upkeep resources, particularly human resources, who are enticed by international companies offering significantly disproportionate conditions. When combined with the low fiscal competitiveness, this discrepancy is further exacerbated.
[FH]: In what ways has Fintech House contributed to the journey of lluni?
[LF]: Fintech House has served as a platform for learning and exposure. The various initiatives it promotes, such as talks, labs, contests, conferences, and the networking opportunities it brings together, have opened doors for us in terms of partnerships, new business perspectives, market acceleration and even fundraising opportunities.
[FH]: How do you see the future of fintech shaping up, particularly in Portugal, and how is lluni poised to adapt to these trends?
[LF]: Fintech are set to continue their extensive expansion, holding immense potential to become increasingly relevant across the entire value chain. At lluni, we have our eyes on all emerging technological advancements. We sense that significant changes are on the horizon in the Insurance market in the coming years, and we need to prepare Insurance Brokers for this evolution. Customers will become more tech-savvy and dynamic, making it crucial to align with their needs. On the other hand, new distribution models are emerging that challenge the status quo. Technologies like AI, Big Data, Embedded Insurance, Comparison platforms, digital insurers, and advisors, among others, will introduce new models that will compete with traditional insurance distribution.
The technological ecosystem we provide aims to serve as an integration platform to incorporate all these technologies. Whether developed by us or integrated by third parties, we aim to equip Insurance Brokers with more efficient and innovative tools at accessible costs. This will enable them to perceive market transformations as opportunities rather than threats.
[FH]: As the CEO of lluni, how do you ensure that your advice remains relevant and effective in the face of rapid changes in international business environments, particularly with the emerging influence of digital transformation?
The speed of the market and technology is indeed astounding. To ensure that we stay updated and position ourselves as a transformative and innovative force for our clients, we need to keep vigilant radars on what’s happening in the worlds of insurance and technology.
As an Insurtech, we understand that many of the challenges in the insurance sector revolve around business model transformation driven by technology. Maintaining close relationships with insurers and other tech companies, staying attuned to emerging technologies, opening doors to projects and experimentation labs, promoting the integration of solutions, and fostering new technology-based business models are all part of our daily activities. These practices place us at the forefront of technology for Insurance Brokerage.
As CEO, I promote the entire interaction cycle that allows us to gather as much knowledge as possible, systematize it, and transform it into technology-based solutions. These solutions can then be effectively applied by our clients to optimize their businesses, thereby ensuring the sustainability of Insurance Brokers.